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Post Plastic Surgery Emotions – A Patient’s Perspective

What follows below is a blog post that I can’t take credit for. A former patient has become a friend and wrote the words below. I am grateful to her for sharing a patient’s post-operative perspective, and I value her insights.

As a plastic surgeon, I spend a great deal of time preparing my patients for their surgeries, but what happens at home postoperatively is in the realm of the patient, which I don’t get to see.

My thanks for her perspective. If I can still learn from my patients, then I hope it will help you as well.

What to expect emotionally after plastic surgery?

Deciding to have plastic surgery is not usually a quick decision. Many patients have been considering having their desired procedure for years. The feelings surrounding plastic surgery are exciting and nerve wrecking. Each patient has to weigh the potential risks against the potential results before making the educated decision to have their surgery.

It is important for patients, as well as their caregivers involved, to know that regardless of the outcome, patients often experience temporary feelings of depression and some emotional vulnerability. This will not last forever. I feel there are several reasons why plastic surgery causes some post-operative sadness.

1. Are we ever satisfied?
We can always find something to be unsatisfied with or unhappy about. And when we fix one thing, it can shed more light on something else.

2. Physical limitations
During the initial recovery, patients are removed from their normal routine and this lack of socialization can be very isolating and more difficult for some patients to deal with than others. Laying around all day taking it easy is nice for a day or two, but it does nothing for your endorphins, especially if you’re use to an active lifestyle, regularly working out, having sex, etc.

3. Uncertainty
Patients may not know right away if they like their new face or body. Allowing for sufficient healing time pass before they can appreciate their results is required. But it’s hard to not overthink the results, especially when many patients spent a good deal of time before surgery staring in the mirror contemplating whether or not to have their surgery.

4. New lease on life can be overwhelming
Some people use an insecurity about their body, for years even, as a crutch to hold them back from living their life the way they desire. When their problem area is corrected, the patient may feel overwhelmed initially with their new face or body, even if it’s a successful result. For some patients after surgery, receiving positive attention from people who maybe never gave them attention before can be an adjustment and take some time getting used to.

5. Relationships need fixing too
Some people get plastic surgery to try to solve a relationship issue. This can leave a patient feeling empty and alone, realizing it wasn’t solely about their face or body.

6. Results are not guaranteed
Sometimes the outcome is not what the patient hoped for it to be. Accepting that and moving forward can be easier said than done. A revision may be an option but it is not always.

7. Backed up
Pain can be managed well with medication, but pain medication can cause constipation. When you just aren’t feeling like yourself, it can bring you down.

8. Other’s opinions
People around you might judge you or change the way they treat you. Not everyone is happy and supportive of plastic surgery. Don’t share your surgery with people who you don’t trust. Even if you think you won’t care what they think.

9. Excitement is over
The high energy leading up to plastic surgery is totally consuming. After plastic surgery, patients come back down to normal. Some patients will miss the excitement, and the attention and can experience “what now?” feelings. This can create a strong desire for more plastic surgery.

In summary, keeping perspective and a healthy attitude is important during recovery from plastic surgery. Avoid searching for plastic surgery gone wrong images online, they will mess with your head. Eat nutritious food to promote good healing and try to keep a positive mind. I found reading motivational quotes to be uplifting and beneficial.

Here are a few good ones, all authors unknown:

  • “Worrying does not empty tomorrow of its troubles, it empties today of its strength.”
  • “What screws us up most in life is the picture of how it’s supposed to be.”
  • “Never let the things you want make you forget the things you have.”

November 12, 2014 1:36 pm
Categories: Blog, Cosmetic Surgery, Plastic Surgery

Written by Dr. Adam Tattelbaum

Dr. Adam Tattelbaum is a highly skilled and compassionate plastic surgeon with over two decades of experience.

Double-certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery and the American Board of Surgery, Dr. Tattelbaum believes in providing personalized patient care and customizes his treatment plans to suit the individual.

Dr. Tattelbaum's candid and realistic approach has earned him recognition, not only with his patients but in the Top Doctor lists of the Washingtonian and Bethesda magazines. He is also a member of the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, a mark of distinction in the field of cosmetic surgery.

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